After attending the 13th Annual Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, Oregon last week, I decided to write a post on how to have a great beer festival experience. What I have found is that the biggest tip to have a good beer festival is to plan it out.
During 2007, Andy and I attended every beer festival we could. We attended a festival in a parking lot of a bar, we drove to Bend, OR to partake of the Wet Hop Festival and made appearance at Brewer’s Festival, Holiday Ale Festival, Organic and even International Beer Festival. Eventually yes, our livers did recover.
We found that with proper planning, we could have a GREAT time. Just showing up and expecting to have a good time, sometimes didn’t work out. We found that with no planning, Andy went hungry because there were no acceptable vegetarian dishes, beers we wanted to try had run out, or prices were much higher than what we budgeted.
The first step to having a great beer festival is to research the festival online.
1. Where will the event be held at? How will you get there and back safely and legally? (Think either mass transit such as a train or bus or a taxi. DO NOT RELY ON A DESIGNATED DRIVER. Allow everyone in your party to partake.)
2. What beers will be available? Once you find out the line-up you can determine which beers are priorities for you to sample.
3. What are the fees associated with entry, mugs, and samples? Are they a cash only festival and if so where are the ATM’s located?
4. If there is an event map available online, print it out beforehand. Many festivals only offer maps for a fee.
5. Can you bring in your own food and water? If they allow it, bring in some snacks and water to help some money.
6. If you are traveling with friends or a spouse, come up with a plan for where you will meet if you get separated. Many times, the festivals get really loud and you might not be able to understand a simple cell phone conversation.
7. Dress appropriately. Wear shoes that are comfortable and don’t mind if a keg of beer is spilled on them. Check the weather before heading out and wear layers if the weather might turn nasty. I like to bring a small back pack to carry souvenirs and anything else I might pick up.
8. Make sure you eat a good protein packed meal before arriving. You’ll still have time to sample brats and pretzels but eating first will ensure that you are on top of your game.
9. Be patient and be respectful. Remember that other participants are there to do the same thing. Be patient while waiting in line and be kind to the people working the festivals as they are probably volunteers.
10. Pace yourself. Enjoy the festival and the beers but remember to be take it easy. You’ll enjoy yourself a lot more both at the festival and the next day.
If you have additional tips, please leave your comments.